Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roving Pittsburgher Review of "The Official Blues Brothers Revue"

The Official Blues Brothers Revue
By Gregg Mathis

I had the great pleasure of being at the "The Official Blues Brothers Revue" at the Byham Theater On March 8, 2012. For fans of R&B or the Blues Brothers is a great two hour show. A very tight and talented 6 piece band kicked off the show with a spirited version of Night Train while a video of Jake and Elwood spoofed them prepping and arriving for the show.
Wayne Catania and Kieron Lafferty

The band switched into “Hey Bartender” and Jake and Elwood bounced onto the stage complete with Jake (Wayne Catania) cartwheels (without losing his porkpie), briefcase unlocking, white socks and shades. One notable variance in the cover brothers was the terrific harp playing of Kieron Lafferty as Elwood. Rather than something for Dan Ackroyd to do to contribute to the original routine, Kieron's playing was outstanding and a key part of the music.

Arnae Batson
with Katania and
A clear highlight was the solo singing of Arnae Batson. She rocked the house with Aretha's “Think” and “Respect.”  In an interesting twist she did an outstanding version of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." Her scat ramble during the band solo number came complete with Janis-like stomping out the vocals.

A very nice touch that should have been present during each number, not just a few, was the screen display of the original artists. Considering that this show was a cover band of a pretend band and no original material was presented, recognition of the artists who recorded the music was excellent.

Wayne and Kieron as
 Jake and Elwood
There was a great crowd who was eager to be part of the show, but the band didn't get them involved in the show until very near the end. My only slight criticism of the show was that they didn't involve a ready audience more. The show is sanctioned by Dan Ackroyd and The Belushi Estate and was performed with love and respect and lots of great rhythm and blues.

Gregg Mathis is a principal in Pro-Fry, Pittsburgh's independent cooking oil services company.  We've been Pittsburgh's fryer guys for the past 6 years.  You can reach them by phone at (412) 720-6363.  Gregg is a life-long Pittsburgher. He has been making and enjoying music for a long, long time.

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